Car smoking ban now in force
In England and Wales, it is now illegal to smoke in a car carrying children. The much-debated law came into force on 1st October 2015. It’s designed to protect children from the harmful effects of secondhand tobacco smoke. If caught, both the driver and anyone else smoking in the car will be fined £50 if they have someone under 18 in the car with them.
Although Police and local authorities have been told they can enforce the law straightaway, it’s been reported by BT that the authorities are thought to be in favour of a ‘grace period’ where drivers will be educated rather than fined to begin with.
The BBC has noted that “the acknowledgement by the police that there will be a light-touch approach to the smoking ban in cars has raised some eyebrows.” However, they have also pointed out that a similar thing happened when smoking was banned in enclosed public places like bars, clubs and restaurants in 2007: “it was not made a priority by police or council officials, but the fact it was the law changed attitudes and behaviour.”
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokeswoman was quoted by the BBC as saying: “Police forces will be taking an educational, advisory and non-confrontational approach when enforcing the new legislation.
“This would see people being given warnings rather than being issued with fines, which would give time for public awareness of the offences to build.”
The dangers of smoking in cars
The British Lung Foundation campaigned for five years for this smoking ban to happen. Their recent infographic tells of some of the dangers of smoking in cars with children present. If you or another adult smokes in the car, children are exposed to secondhand smoke, which increases their risk of common colds, ear infections, asthma attacks, meningitis and even cot death.
Did you know? Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 chemicals.
Other countries have already banned smoking in cars with children including: Australia, Canada, Cyprus, South Africa and some states of the USA.
The law in England and Wales
You must not smoke in a vehicle that is carrying children under the age of 18. The Government states that the law applies even if you have the windows or sunroof open or the air conditioning is on. It also still applies in you’re sitting in the open doorway of the car.
Smoking is allowed in a car with children if it’s a convertible with the roof completely down, if you are 17 years old and alone in the car, or if you are smoking e-cigarettes (vaping).